This window will be very busy over the next few days.
SpaceX’s Inspiration4 became the first-ever fully private mission to reach Earth orbit on Wednesday evening (September 15), ride a Falcon 9 rocket in the last frontier.
Inspiration4’s Crew dragon capsule, a vehicle called Resilience, quickly settled into a circular orbit 364 miles (585 kilometers) above our planet. It’s higher than any Crew Dragon has ever been, and about 115 miles (185 km) above the path taken by the International Space Station.
Live Updates: SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Fully Civilian Private Orbital Mission
Following: SpaceX Inspiration4’s fully civilian private mission in pictures
The view from up there is incredible, as SpaceX showed us early Thursday morning (September 16). The company posted on twitter a video clip of one of Resilience’s cameras capturing our beautiful blue planet looming behind the dome, a dome-shaped window that SpaceX installed on the nose of the capsule for Inspiration4. (The Cupola replaced a docking port, which Resilience won’t need for this mission, a three-day solo jaunt around Earth.)
The cupola allows Inspiration4 crew members to have a 360-degree view of their exotic surroundings. It’s a safe bet that spaceflyers will put a lot of nose marks on this glass, especially since the dome apparently sits just above the Resilience toilet.
As the name suggests, Inspiration4 carries a crew of four: Jared Isaacman, a tech billionaire who booked and paid for the mission; assistant physician Hayley Arceneaux; Sian Proctor, geoscientist and science communicator; and data engineer Chris Sembroski.
The quartet is breaking new ground for private spaceflight and doing philanthropic work in the process. Inspiration4 aims to raise $ 200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Arceneaux works at the hospital and was treated there for cancer as a child.
Inspiration4 is scheduled to end with an ocean water landing on Saturday (September 18). It will be the second return from Earth in as many days, if all goes according to plan: the Chinese trio Shenzhou 12 The mission is expected to land early on Friday (September 17), ending its three-month orbital mission.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book on the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.